The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Friday, 11 September 2009

(Oh, my aching) Back in the Saddle, again

The 3 Day Novel has been typed up, printed off, packed in an envelope and mailed away.  I have come down from the sugar, fat and caffeine high of the weekend.  After back to school followed with the 3 Day Novel I am timidly easing back into a writing routine.  Since Monday evening I haven't written a blessed thing but that'll change this afternoon.  My lower back is still screaming but it is getting better.  I toyed with the idea of visiting the gym this week but when I finished laughing it was time to pick up the boy from school.  Monday of next week is all about discipline and getting back in the groove.

I also noticed that all that info over there on the right side is out of date - That'll be updated, if not today, Monday.

Lately I've been reading a lot of short fiction.  Here are the two books currently following me around.

The one is on the bottom is The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Science Fiction - Sixtieth Anniversary Edition.  What a storehouse of classic short stories.  Anyone writing short fiction would do well to pick this one up because these are the best stories from some of the best Authors of the last sixty years.

The one on top is pretty cool.  I picked it up at a used bookstore recently (I'll get into a little rant in a moment).  It is titled,  Tomorrow, the Stars - an anthology edited by one of my all time favourites, Robert A Heinlein.  Originally published in 1952 (this particular copy is a 1967 reprint) the book showcases great stories from the mid-point of the last century.  Interesting to see how accurate some of the "futuristic" views of the 1990's were from 1952 - and how completely off the mark some of it was.  The guys back then were so optimistic about our ability to get our asses off terra firma and out into interplantary space. Sorry fellas, no Mars colony just yet.  The other great thing about stories from the 1940's and 50's is the myth of family life early television fed us.  Can you imagine Ward Cleaver heading upstairs to give Wally and the Beav a "talking to" while drawing his belt purposefully from the loops of his pants.  Well, I've only read the first six stories in the anthology and in two stories by different authors the response of fathers to their misbehaving children has been an almost unconscious removal of the belt while heading upstairs to deal out a little Ozzy and Harriet era behavioural modification.  How the times have changed.

Now, on to the rant.

Used Bookstores - among my favourite places in the entire world.  No matter where I go I always try to slip into a local used bookstore because you really never know where you'll find a gem.  When I say a gem, I'm not talking about something valuable in a monetary way (that's nice too, though I'd never sell).  I'm talking about finding a Heinlein or Lester Del Ray or Alfred Bester or Ursula Le Guin or A.M. Holmes or a whole host of other author's books that I've never read or, if I'm really lucky, one I've never even heard of before.

I like everything about Used Bookstores - usually they've been in their location forever.  Great old buildings with books stacked floor to ceiling.  Sometimes books are arranged by subject and author, sometimes whim. I love to wander the claustrophobic aisles along fire-hazard stacks of paperbacks and hardcovers.  And the old book smell. Kids books, novels, sports, cooking, gardening, textbooks, emncyclopedias, old magazines - all of it.

And the folks who run these places - all different kinds of people but two common threads have always been the hallmarks of a used book seller. Delightfully peculiar and gregariously friendly.  Until recently.

My last two Used Bookstore experiences have left me flat.  One was in Sault Ste Marie and the other in Guelph.  Both times the folks at the counter only acknowledged our arrival with a dried apple, pinched nosed, I-smell-cat-shit-all-the-time expression.  Neither time was my "hello" or "good afternoon" returned.  Both times the books seemed over-priced - they are USED books after all, not RARE books.  And both times when I checked out with our purchases it seemed as if I were inconveniencing the counter staff by daring to make a purchase.  

Is this the trend?  I certainly hope not.  Used Bookstores have always brought me pleasure and the thought of them evolving into places I'd rather avoid doesn't comfort me.  I guess I'll need to plan a visit to Macondo Books in Guelph.  Check this out.  If she can't give me my required dose of Used Bookstore odd & friendly, I don't know who can.

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